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  1. #1
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    Freelancing from abroad.

    Hello All,

    I am a PHP & Java developer (and basic Linux sysadmin) from the UK. I am currently working full time as an employee of a company but feel like I am stuck in somewhat of a rut and am interested in moving into freelancing, doing web and hopefully also mobile development.

    The problem is that the rising cost of living in the UK is killing me, it is starting to seem like you need to earn rather a lot of money here in order to have a good quality of life and being able to own my own house seems like a pipe-dream at the moment.

    An idea that I am starting to consider, would be to move elsewhere in the EU to somewhere with a lower cost of living, Poland for example. I believe that as an EU citizen I shouldn't have any problems with work permits etc.

    My idea would be to register a business in the UK and get a UK phone number (via a VOIP service) and focus my business on serving mainly UK based clients but do my work from abroad where it is cheaper to live. I am hoping that my fluent english skills would allow me to charge more money than other foreign freelancers but still be cheaper than most freelancers from the UK.

    I have done some googleing on this subject , but haven't come up with anything about anybody else who has tried a similar plan, I am wondering if there is anybody here that has done anything similar?

    The problems that I forsee would be that Tax could be very complicated and also that for services such as hosting and advertising (adwords etc) as well as electronic products I would still end up paying UK prices which might suddenly look very expensive in comparison to everything else.

    I would be very appreciative if anybody has any insight or advice about this kind of thing, even better if somebody has done anything similar succesfully (or unsuccesfully).

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Galactic Overlord gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy
    HAWK's Avatar
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    I don't know how the laws work over there, but I freelance from NZ and contract to an Australian company (SitePoint obviously). I have set up a NZ business from which I work, so all tax is paid by that company. If you set up an company in Poland that contracts to the company in the UK, I imagine it would work the same way.

  3. #3
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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    I am a PHP & Java developer (and basic Linux sysadmin) from the UK. I am currently working full time as an employee of a company but feel like I am stuck in somewhat of a rut and am interested in moving into freelancing, doing web and hopefully also mobile development.
    I can't comment on the legal questions but just wanted to encourage you to make this move.
    Freelance doesn't suit everyone(working with clients) but I'm sure you will learn heaps about yourself and your career by giving it a go.

    I started freelancing this year, lots of opportunities have opened up for me and I'm enjoying my work more now than I ever have.

  4. #4
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    The problem with the plan is that you are changing your whole life around because your chosen profession doesn't pay as much as you'd like. That is a pretty hardcore approach to what is a common problem.

    Living abroad is a huge commitment, and not one to be taken lightly. Unless you want to live abroad, what is the point of having a house but being somehwere you don't necessarily want to be?

    If you would really rather live in the UK, but just want to have a higher income, there are plenty of ways to do that that might be much easier.

    But, as a semi-expat myself I say if you want to live abroad, go for it.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies guys. To clarify, my plan was to use a UK company to trade under as I would be targetting mostly UK clients and UK companies are easy to setup. Again not 100% sure of the tax implications of this, but not looking for legal advice here. Just interesting in anecdotes/ideas etc.

    You are right SageWing, it is a somewhat drastic move in a way. On the other hand I am single and without children so it might not be such an upheaval for me as it would be for others. Also most of the people I grew up with here have moved onto other places so there is not a lot I would be leaving behind and flights back are cheap enough anyway.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    Why not go the whole hog - have you considered registering your actual company abroad? You can still target the UK with UK phone number, uk mailing address etc. You could then choose a country with a lower tax rate than the UK.

    You haven't explained what your exact business model will be, but either way, have you considered the impact of not being able to (easily and cheaply) meet with your clients (or potential clients)? Do you feel confident that you are able to close enough sales without any face to face meetings? My experience of targeting UK companies is that most will want to meet up very early in the sales process and often want to meet up throughout the project; that doesn't sound very practical if you are in Poland.

    Do you think your lower pricing make up for this? What type of clients are you trying to attract? Because clients looking for the 'cheapest' tend to make for very bad clients! What would be your unique selling proposition (USP) - i.e. why would someone pay extra for you over the lower prices of other offshore developers?

    Either way, being cheapest is a very hard business model to make succeed. There's always someone cheaper and it attracts difficult, cheap clients. You might find more success targeting a niche market, becoming a specialist in the market and actually charging higher fees. Also maybe look at ways to reduce your outgoings and improving your tax structure - a sole trader pays around 28% in taxes and NI, while if you set up a LTD company you can pay significantly less and can save at least 2-3k a year pretty much instantly.

    Of course, if you just want to get out of dreary England to somewhere hotter and more cheery, then go for it!


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